citing employee-raised concerns, ford announced this week that it's hiring a third-party firm to investigate how it tests and certifies fuel economy. the probe involves mileage on the 2019 ranger pickup truck at minimum, but ford has announced no immediate changes to its fuel-economy labels and emissions certifications.
at issue is so-called road load, a measure of resistance factors like aerodynamics and tire friction that used engine ers validate on test tracks and use in laboratory fuel-economy tests. inconsistent road-load measurements played a major role in hyundai-kia's restated mileage figures in 2012, as well as ford's own restated mileage for six cars in 2014. in both instances, the automakers paid vehicle owners — in ford's case, as much as $1,050 apiece.
ford is "evaluating potential changes to our road-load modeling process," said kim pittel, who heads the automaker's sustainability, environment and safety engineering group, in a statement. the automaker is scrutinizing calculations for the ranger in particular, but it's "assessing additional vehicles, as well," pittel added.
the new ranger, on sale now, has a turbocharged four-cylinder used engine and a 10-speed automatic transmission. in combined epa ratings, the mid-size pickup truck gets 22 to 23 mpg depending if you get two- or four-wheel drive; those figures beat out all non-diesel competitors unless the investigation leads ford to downgrade the figures.
as of now, "there's been no determination that this affects ford's fuel-economy labels or emissions certifications," pittel said.
fuel-economy tests involve automakers following prescribed epa procedures to measure tailpipe emissions and, thus, fuel consumption. the epa audits the results but only for a small portion of some 1,300 new-car variants certified each year. we reported the audit rate at just 15 percent in 2012, but the agency has since added more employees to beef it up.
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ford said it shared information with regulators at the epa and california air resources board. asked for comment, an epa spokesperson did not immediately respond. but steve cliff, carb's executive director, issued a statement to that the agency will "be carefully scrutinizing this issue in discussions with the automaker. carb takes seriously violations of our regulations, especially given the recent high profile cases such as volkswagen."
stay tuned for more. we'll let you know how this shakes out.
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